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Bundesliga is back: Eight in a row for Bayern, woe for Werder - Stats Perform AI completes season

3 months ago
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Stats Perform AI has provided a simulation to generate a predicted Bundesliga table, with a familiar name at the top.

The Bundesliga is set to return this month after plans to resume were given the green light by the German government.

Chancellor Angela Merkel cleared the competition to re-start in May with the German Football League (DFL) set to give an exact date after a meeting on Thursday.

"We talked about the Bundesliga, which from the second half of May will again be able to run under the approved and indeed tested rules," she said at a news conference.

It means Germany's top flight is on course to be the first major European league to make its return during the coronavirus pandemic, with a resumption on the weekends of either May 16 or May 23 both seemingly feasible.

With 16 of the Bundesliga's 18 teams having completed 25 of 34 matches, the Stats Perform AI team have crunched the numbers to predict how the remaining games will play out.

Who will finish the season on top and who will face the dreaded drop?
 


The statistical model estimates the probability of each match outcome – either a win, draw or loss – based on each team's attacking and defensive quality.

Those ratings are allocated based on four years' worth of comprehensive historic data points and results, with more weighting given to recent matches to account for improvements or declines in form and performance trends.

The AI simulation takes into account the quality of the opposition that a team scores or concedes goals against and rewards them accordingly.

All that data is used to simulate upcoming matches using goal predictions from the Poisson distribution – a detailed mathematical model – with the two teams' attacking and defending ratings used as inputs.

The outcome of the season is then simulated on 10,000 different occasions in order to generate the most accurate possible percentage chance of each team finishing in their ultimate league position.

Without further ado, let's have a good look at the results of the simulation with the predicted final league table.
 


EIGHT IN A ROW FOR BAYERN

The dominance Bayern have enjoyed of the Bundesliga since the 2012-13 season has rarely looked more under threat than it did earlier this campaign.

However, after floundering under Niko Kovac, they have been revitalised by Hansi Flick, who was rewarded for their turnaround with a permanent contract until 2023.

Bayern led by four points at the top when the season was brought to a halt, and our model has them finishing seven clear to clinch an eighth successive title.

They are given an 87.8 per cent chance to claim first place. The odds of them surrendering their advantage are comparatively minuscule.

The simulation gives Bayern just a 9.6 per cent chance of finishing as runners-up and a 2.3 per cent probability of tumbling to third.


NOTHING TO SEPARATE LEIPZIG & DORTMUND

RB Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund are Bayern's two closest challengers at the top, with a once crowded title race splintering and leaving just three genuine contenders.

Leipzig were a point behind second-placed Dortmund when the season was suspended, their goal difference superior by a single goal.

The model has Leipzig edging Dortmund for second, with each finishing on 68 points. Leipzig have a full percentage point better chance of finishing second than Dortmund (42.6 to 41.6).

However, the simulation gives Dortmund superior odds of overhauling Bayern to lift the title.

Dortmund have a 7.1 per cent chance of finishing top, compared to 4.6 per cent for Julian Nagelsmann's Leipzig.


LEVERKUSEN LOSE OUT TO GLADBACH IN UCL RACE

The race for fourth place and the final Champions League qualification berth is a two-horse one between Borussia Monchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen.

Gladbach had a two-point advantage over Leverkusen before the campaign was put on hiatus.

The simulation has Leverkusen halving the deficit, but Gladbach ultimately holding on to seal a return to Europe's elite club competition.

It is Leverkusen who are given the better odds of moving up to third in the table, however.

Leverkusen have assembled a talented young squad, but what damage would missing out on the Champions League do to their hopes of keeping hold of star forward Kai Havertz?


WOE FOR WERDER, PADERBORN PLUMMET

Unsurprisingly given their tally of 16 points from 25 games, the simulation has Paderborn finishing at the foot of the table. They have just a 6.3 per cent chance of avoiding automatic relegation.

Of more significance to the landscape of German football would be Werder Bremen joining them in the 2. Bundesliga.

The four-time Bundesliga champions have been relegated just once in their history, but the simulation has them suffering an agonising drop into the second tier.

Fortuna Dusseldorf are projected to finish just two points clear of Werder, who have a game in hand against Eintracht Frankfurt, and end the season in the relegation play-off place.

Mainz - four points clear of Dusseldorf when the league was put on hold - are simulated to maintain that gap and avoid the drop.

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